After the recent climax in ankle pain last week I was a little skeptical about being able to get in a decent run this weekend but things worked out better than expected. I took three days off after last weekends 21 mile run, then did an easy 4.25 miles on Thursday which felt okay. Not great, but okay. On Friday I went to see Dr. Jamie Raymond, a chiropractor and runner who has treated a handful of Trail Monsters. He did some manipulation, ART, scraping and kinesio taping, just the right combination to get my ankle feeling a lot better. Not 100%, but much better than when I walked into his office. I'll go back for another treatment or two and that should get me back to normal.
So not knowing exactly how I was going to feel today I set off with the goal of completing the 15 mile Beautiful Loop but had prepared myself mentally in case I needed to turn around early. Jamie, Lily, Sara, Blaine and Erin made up today's group, but by 5 miles it was just me and Jamie, and luckily we were both feeling good (Jamie had also been suffering from an ankle sprain). Up to this point the trails were mostly hard packed snow with a little ice, very runnable and we managed to keep most miles under a 9 minute pace. Actually each mile from 2 to 11 was sub 9, that doesn't sound fast but but it felt like we were moving along pretty quickly over the hilly terrain.
Along the 6 mile stretch of power lines we encountered a lot of ice, stretches of 100 feet or more at times and I was grateful for the IceSpikes I was wearing. A few weeks ago Erik hooked up a bunch of Trail Monsters with free sets if IceSpikes he had acquired and I've now had the opportunity to get in some good miles with them. For years I've been a fan of good old fashioned screw shoes and at first was skeptical of what seemed at first glance to be little more than sheet metal screws in a fancy package with a jacked-up price. But God is in the details:
The deep groove in the head of the IceSpike definitely provides better grip than an ordinary sheet metal screw, I found today that I was able to run across ice, up and down icy hills without any worry of slipping. Today's conditions were actually more icy than I'd ever seen before, and for today's conditions I don't think ordinary screw shoes would have been good enough. The only thing I haven't really tested with these is how they hold up on roads, if they can last through a few road miles on a regular basis without wearing down then I really think they'd be worth the money.
It's also worth mentioning that I put the IceSpikes into a pair of shoes that I had screwed last year and the result is that they didn't stay in place quite as well as I assume they would have if I had screwed a virgin pair of shoes. In three runs totaling about 30 miles I think I've lost a total of 12 IceSpikes. That's my own fault, I suspect the same would have happened if I'd used sheet metal screws.
I made the rookie mistake today of not protecting the hose of my hydration pack, within two miles it was frozen and it took another 10 miles for me to get it thawed by shoving the hose down my shirt and wearing my vest over the pack. It was a funny kind of cold today, at times it felt pretty warm and I was sweating pretty heavily, but it was cold enough that my sweat was freezing. Most interesting was the sweatcicle that formed at the edge of my buff, I didn't even notice it until Jamie pointed it out:
It felt like Jamie and I were moving along at a pretty quick pace for this run, and I was surprised to find that it was only a few second faster than when we ran it 3 weeks ago. We did make fewer stops along the way, so while our running pace wasn't significantly faster our overall time was a few minutes better. I was really happy that my ankle wasn't in any significant pain and certainly didn't slow me down today, even with some of the gnarly terrain we came across.
distance: 15.06 miles
weather: 9-16 degrees, mostly clear sky, light wind
conditions: crusty packed snow, sheer ice, bare ground
gear: Inov-8 Roclite 295 with IceSpikes, sock liners, Smart Wool socks, tights, 2x long sleeve shirts, windbreaker vest, gloves, mittens, buff, Nathan HPL #20